A recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) gives a huge lift to private companies that supply after-school tutoring and other supplemental education services (SES) for the nation's schools--but it also could result in a disruption or loss of service for tens of thousands of students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and other districts of similar status.

In a Dec. 8 letter to Illinois state officials, ED demanded that CPS, along with 10 other districts across the state, stop serving as their own providers of tutoring services to struggling students. The letter,...

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